The future of NATO’s relations with Israel

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen meets with the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, February 9, 2011.

From Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO:  In times of upheaval such as this, you can count on established partnerships. Indeed, I am here to speak about a better future: the future of NATO’s relations with Israel and the other Mediterranean partners.

I see several areas where we can work together, for example civil emergency planning, military-to-military cooperation, the fight against terrorism. Concerning, civil emergency, last December several NATO Allies contributed to the Israeli effort to extinguish the fires that ravaged the North of the country. This cooperation could be taken further through joint training, joint exercises and greater connectivity between our emergency centres. …

I do not have illusions about NATO’s role in providing security in the region: NATO cannot solve all the problems and it never intended to do so. After all, Mediterranean partners never expected such a thing from NATO. But we can still provide a substantial added value in the region. …

The lack of a solution to the Israeli – Palestinian conflict continues to undermine the stability of the region.
NATO is not involved in the Middle East peace process and is not seeking a role in it. The three conditions for any possible NATO involvement are well known: if a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians was reached; if both parties requested that NATO should help them with the implementation of that agreement; and if the United Nations endorsed NATO’s possible involvement.
Of course, at the moment, those three IF’s are far from being met. The lead for the Middle East peace process rests with the parties themselves, with the Quartet and with the UN.  But NATO-Allies attach the utmost importance to reaching a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the Syrian and Lebanese tracks, to achieve a two-state solution in which Israel and Palestine live side by side in peace and security.

Excerpts from speech by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the Herzliya Conference in Israel.  (photo: NATO)

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